Lize_DearMa

Dear Ma,

So many memories are flooding to the surface with this Luscious Legacy project. We have been asked to write a letter to someone who helped develop our appreciation of food. Of course I thought of you.

I already shared the story about our trip to France and the mad quest to find Lenotre. I didn’t mention how Bernadette took the hazelnut chocolate truffle you and Annie knew I was trying to save for myself when we were on our way to Giverny to see Monet’s gardens, and how my heart sank when she did. I could see the look of horror on Annie’s face as Bernadette dug down deep to the bottom of the cellophane bag I was holding, pried my fingers apart and pilfered the little chocolate gem. How silly of me to offer her a chocolate without rescuing the desired one before presenting her the bag, and how strange that she would go to such lengths to get the one I was trying to hide by sectioning it off from the other chocolates in an odd but firm grip from the outside of the bag.

Food disappointments are among the saddest in the world, be it a fallen ice cream cone, a restaurant no longer serving your favorite dessert or someone taking the chocolate you had been craving for what seemed like years.

I thought I would share another story, and if you feel up to it, respond any way you like.

I remember so vividly Annie and I waiting for the crepe you used to make when we were little. I don’t know why it stuck in my mind during all these years, but it stands out as such a powerful memory.

These days crepes are adulterated with all kinds of fillings and toppings; it’s hard to recognize their original form. You can basically get an Italian sandwich stuffed into an extra-large crepe topped with cheese, and the gentleman who serves it to you will pull it out of a toaster oven and hand it over with a pickle and a side of potato chips. Somehow that doesn’t sit well with me, even if the end product might be tasty.

I’ve seen crepe smothered in ice cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce and whipped cream, and I’ve seen them oozing with chicken a la king filling. The crepes that are the base for these kinds of dishes are not the thin, lacy, albino crepes pastry chefs go all out to make. No, these are a thick cousin, something that’s too thin to be a pancake but not elegant or svelte enough to be a true crepe.

In Paris, there are people who make crep for tourists. The delicacies are almost see through.

When I made crepes at the Italian restaurant, they were more like my mom’s. The co-owner and head chef, Elvira, didn’t speak any English, but for a few words. She didn’t need to. We seemed to have some other worldly way of communicating. With just a few hand gestures, a few recipes written in Italian and a few key looks, I could figure out what she wanted me to do. When the restaurant would get so busy that people would line up out the door and around the block, the kitchen worked like magic. I was one step ahead of her, anticipating her needs and the two of us with the help of her husband kept the appetizers, entrees, salads and desserts flying into the hands of the wait staff to be placed carefully in front of the diners.

I made the crepes in the afternoon as part of my prepping for the evening rush. They were kept covered and refrigerated. Serving required that I heat two of them, spread them with Nutella, fold them and dust them with powdered sugar. Simple. Beautiful.

These days, my sister makes crepes for my niece who eats them like we did, with just a sprinkle of sugar. She rolls hers in tight cigars instead of folding them, but it warms my heart to see the crepe tradition continue.

Instead of writing to my mom, I simply told her what I was going to write to her. This led to a discussion about crepe, and then my mom remembered a French song, which she shared with me and then sang for me.

Together we came up with the following lyrics:

Du bon lait de la farine
dans la corbeille des oeufs
c’est assez
je m’imagine pour dresser un plat fameux

“Yes!” She exclaimed and added, “Ce sont les crepes!”
(These are crepes/it’s about the crepes.)

She remembered more:

Tout a l’heure a crepe blonde
qui va tressaillir
pour nous rejouir

Then with the help of Google, we found this slight variation:

“Du bon lait de la farine
Dans la corbeille des oeufs
Ce sera je l’imagine
Un dessert délicieux
Dans la poèle la crèpe blonde
Tu vas tressaillir
Et mener gaiement ta ronde
Pour nous réjouir”

Lize Brittin | Boulder, Colorado

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